Fellow heroes, villains, damsels no longer in distress (because it’s 2017), lend me your fears. Are you freaking out because there are too many comic/superhero films? You may be right, but spend some time with me as I spew some syllables of sanity in an attempt to calm you down.
We are after all storytellers, and in my view, that means there can never be too many stories… even as they move from ink on a page to stage and screen.
With that said, lets everyone please take a moment to hold hands and forget about Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark. If you liked that show you were either 6, or really into U2 and for that, and ONLY that, I can forgive you. I share that bit of splendid side note to remind you that this is an opinion piece and you are welcome to disagree with me if you so choose.
We’re in the midst of an artistic revolution.
Hardcore fans and casual viewers alike have no choice but to watch and see what happens. Just like any revolution, you’re going to have your triumphs (The Dark Knight series/The Avengers) and your defeats (Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds). Creators are not going to hit a homerun every time, especially if the stories you love are trapped in the cogs of the Hollywood machine. That is unless your name is Christopher Nolan… you sexy grand master of gods and monsters you. If you die or retire in any less than 100 years from now I’m gonna be pissed.
There are so many factors that go into this discussion. It’s easy to look at a film and attack it at face value. There’s lots of other things to consider. What age group were the creators going for? How much did the studio interfere with original vision of the directors/writers? What was the budget for the film? How much of the film was hashed out before the studio green lighted the thing and gave it a deadline? Perhaps the question shouldn’t be, “are there too many films,” but rather “are they being hashed out too quickly.”
I believe the issue isn’t numbers, but time.
Creative genius takes awhile to craft, and that’s especially true in the world of film. If you don’t believe me, look at the success of Marvel right now vs DC. Marvel took years to develop their universe before uniting all the heroes at once. DC basically binged on fan service in order to vomit scripts in an attempt to catch up to a film franchise that took it’s time to be great. It’s the classic story of the tortoise and the hare, except this time the tortoise has super powers and steroids. On another side note, I hate the new turtle movies with a passion, but don’t blame the turtles themselves. Michael Bay has always treated his audience like they were idiots. Unfortunately there’s still enough people out there that keep giving him money. Stop giving Michael Bay money.. Please…
I think it’s also an issue of freedom. James Gunn for example, was given a lot of freedom with Guardians of the Galaxy. He has a way of being quirky and interesting while also being streamlined with his storytelling. It’s clear to me that the studio trusted him to make his own film, but also build something that appeals to a wide audience. There’s lots of examples where the opposite happens and disaster strikes. Take The Amazing Spider Man 2 for example. It was almost like Sony said, “Dubstep’s cool so who needs a compelling storyline,” or “A list actors are good enough on their own so why bother with any character development.” Dear Electro. Why didn’t you just die in the tank with the eels. No one in the audience had time to care about you except maybe Jamie Foxx… and Skrillex.
We could even touch on the third installment of the original Spider Man film franchise. I actually didn’t mind where things were going. I had some issues with emo Peter Parker of course and I’m not a huge Tobey Maguire fan by any means, but Spider Man at it’s core is about a nerd getting to experience the rights and responsibilities of power. He did a great job portraying that. I was also young enough to appreciate the light hearted nature of the first two films but WHY did they INSIST on having so many villains. Venom was a whiny baby Clark Kent reject with a god complex who had roughly 5 minutes of film time to kill spider man. Good call studio, thanks for drowning your story in fake fandom.
Alright so I’m getting a little off topic but I have a point I promise.
You have plenty to complain about for sure, but they’re all about specific things regarding your favorite storylines. The general idea of consistent creativity shouldn’t bother anyone. Chances are, if you hated a film, it’ll be remade in 3 years anyway. If you aren’t an Andrew Garfield fan then, get excited for Homecoming. I know I am. Above all, when so many things go into a project, it’s hard to find a single thing to blame if it doesn’t go your way. In the end, it’s best to wait until someone gets your story right or better yet be the one who takes your favorite hero to the next level. If you’re reading this then you’ve got time.
Since this blog lives inside a hub dedicated to indie comics, let’s take a moment to talk about indie comic movies. There needs to be more of them… period.
I absolutely loved V for Vendetta if it was mostly because of my obsession with syllables and the V monologue to Natalie Portman upon their first meeting so sue me. What can I say? I have weird tastes sometimes. I also really loved Watchmen even though it felt a little long to me.
Mostly I like Indie comic films because they tend to be a little riskier and tackle more complex questions. Sometimes fame and notoriety can get in the way of creativity. In a way, indie comic films are less “bogged down” by the pressures of popularity and are able to breathe more. It’s almost as if being less mainstream allows them to captivate more people.
I think more indie comics on the big screen will be a wonderful counterpoint to obsessively remade classics that have almost no choice but to be formulaic. We’re on our way with films like The Hellboy series, 300, Scott Pilgrim, and 30 Days of Night. Some of my favorites were lucky enough to become a cult phenomenon like The Crow, and let’s not forget that TMNT is technically an indie comic. I’m a product of the 90’s though so once again Michael Bay can go die in a fire for all I care.
On a final note, I get the feeling that the “new classic” comic films are almost headed in an indie direction.
Guardians was far from ordinary. Deadpool and Logan were mature for mostly the right reasons, even if Deadpool was basically Van Wilder in a cool costume who killed people because it was fun. Mostly, I believe the audience is smarter than hollywood gives it credit for. Indie comics and indie comic films trust in the intelligence of the audience. After all we’re mostly nerds. It’s a little bit like how Pixar is successful because it doesn’t treat kids like idiots. I do believe the R rating on comic films might hurt a few movies in the long run, but that’s another topic for another time.
The indie film genre has the same defeats and triumphs as our somewhat more popular heroes. Whether they’re buried treasure or garbage best left behind, they’re simply a bit harder to find if you’re new to to the land of nerd. If so, it’s been my pleasure to be your pedantic pen pal in this perilous paradise of precocious pandemonium. Remember. In the grand scheme of things I know nothing. My inner hypocrite admits that he critiques at his own peril, as should you.
Art will always be judged if it’s brave enough to be art, but allow it to be judged for the sake of growth.
Let judgment never stifle creativity, even if it’s not your own.
In conclusion: La La land (Hollywood) may be swamped with heroes and villains, but I say bring it on. Love them or hate them, we could all use the inspiration from these stories on our best days and our worst.